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Ministry sets up team for exam complaints

Students gather around scoreboards to check their results for the grade 12 national exams earlier this month at Phnom Penh’s Bak Touk High School.
Students gather around scoreboards to check their results for the grade 12 national exams earlier this month at Phnom Penh’s Bak Touk High School. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Ministry sets up team for exam complaints

A special team will be established to review high school students’ claims that they were unfairly graded in this month’s national examinations, the education minister has said.

The announcement came as the Education Ministry said it had so far received more than 100 formal complaints from students who had failed the exam.

After the results were announced on September 13, the ministry gave the students 30 days to lodge complaints, which must be authenticated by a teacher.

“We will create a committee or team which will take charge of this work . . . and they will examine this issue,” said Hang Chuon Naron, the education minister.

However, he declined to comment in detail about the reviews of the results until the process was completed.

Phon Meng, 19, a Bak Touk High School student, said he had asked the ministry to review his marks in three subjects – history, biology and physics.

“I am not very hopeful because I don’t know whether they will contact us or not or whether they will properly look at our requests or not.

But I think as I completed all of the exercises, I must have at least passed. I shouldn’t have been failed,” he said.

Meng was one of about 44 per cent of students who failed this year. The 56 per cent pass rate was a marked improvement on last year’s score, which was significantly lower due to the imposition of strict anti-cheating measures.

Despite being adamant that he passed, Meng’s application may not fare so well. The ministry requires students to attach a supporting statement from their teachers, as well as a breakdown of their studies from the school.

But Meng, who claimed that nobody informed him it was necessary, did not include the documents in his application for review.

Thy Sovantha, who gained fame as an opposition activist during the 2013 election period, and who has failed the exam two years running, said she also filed a complaint, which included descriptions of proctors taking photos of her and interrupting her during the exam.

Khat Sothy, a member of the exam board at Sisowath High School who also teaches Khmer literature at Prek Leap High School, said that in many subjects, such as maths, there were clear right and wrong answers.

But there could be problems with the calculation of a student’s overall marks, he added.

“Exam markers can’t be wrong, but those who calculate the marks or type them into computers, I’m not so sure.”

Chhay Yavy, acting chairman of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association, said she doubted that a proper review would take place.

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